Time is a precious commodity that we all wish there was more of in our everyday life and when it comes to science fiction, it’s something that filmmakers bend at their will to create some of the most iconic stories.
Every genre has had its fair share of films based around time and used it as a story device that gave audiences new understanding of what could happen if by magic or science they were able to control it at their will.
We’ve seen it all before…
Whether the plot throws its characters back in time, forward into possible scenarios of their future, or even the shenanigans of being stuck in a perpetual loop, it’s something that casual viewers or cinephiles have no problem understanding with only a minor explanation that is enough to have us not ponder on plot holes.
In 2020, we were graced with two back to back time alternating and absolutely batshit movies, that were given the love it or hate it treatment from critics and audiences across the globe.
What’s interesting is that one movie came from a blockbuster king and the other from a well adored indie film genius who adapted an acclaimed psychological thriller novel, and regardless of their critical reception they both left a lot to talk about.
The two films plots couldn’t be any further apart in any respect, but the one thing that connects them is the use of time and a surreal nature to which the filmmakers were able to bend it.
The recent releases of Tenet and I’m Thinking of Ending Things have made anyone who watched them both do a bit of mental gymnastics in order to fully get the scope of what the directors Christopher Nolan and Charlie Kaufman were really after.
That’s not to say they were both weren’t excellent films, but they share a common theme of being a lot to grasp within watching in a single sitting.
Director: Christopher Nolan
If you have a chance to see this film safely in theatres, it’s definitely worth the price of admission and may just be Nolan’s most daring project to date.
It starts out with a literal bang and then doesn’t stop from there as you try to keep up with a plot that is supercharged in just about every way possible. It’s understandable that there were those who weren’t as impressed because of a variety of different reason revolving around issues that made the story hard to follow, but if you’re somebody who is looking for a sensational ride of high concept sci-fi action, then this feels like an 80s genre film turned modern.
To put it boldly, it’s a interesting new take on time travel and the ability to weaponize it, seeing this movie on the biggest screen possible is a bold reinvention of the blockbuster action genre and watching something that isn’t a remake is an exhilarating experience that almost seems foreign in comparison to what we’re usually given.
Nolan may be the one of the only filmmakers left who is able to get the funds required for original big budget films that make it to theatres and after watching the risks taken in the storytelling of this movie, it cements his ownership to do so.
Along with the explosive aspects of the film that make you not want to miss a single second, anytime the leads John David Washington and Robert Pattinson were together it just elevated the film in such an exceptional way that made for some legendary dynamic duo chemistry.
Seriously, just give those two guys another franchise together because they bounced jokes and busted heads through time as a badass partnership that needs a lot more investment.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020)
Director: Charlie Kaufman
There is no movie that has played with my mind as severely as Kaufman’s adaption of the Ian Reid novel of the same name. Undoubtedly it would have possibly made more sense if I read the book, but going in blind made for an experience that stuck in my mind so deeply that I know it will garner a re-watch in the future.
Movies this fearless are a rarity and Kaufman seemed to care very little if audiences felt dumb trying to understand the premise, which overall made for a viewing that you’ll want to discuss for hours on end with anyone else who braved the excessive mental load from seeing this film.
Time is heavily used in a way that keeps the audience stuck in unusual sense of disbelief through out the journey, and even the most eagle eyed viewers will probably stumble while trying to figure out what is truly going on as scene after scene dives deeper into the somewhat contained madness.
Additionally, reality itself begins to be questioned as the multiple layers of the story unfold and collide into this merged surreal 2 hour ride that leaves everyone pondering on which characters they should be following from the beginning.
One of the major highlights in the film is getting to see Toni Collette perform a incredible transformative performance that seems to be so effortlessly creepy, enthralling, and just plain odd. Collette is always a scene stealer in anything she’s in but this standout supporting role is yet another jaw dropper that adds to her onscreen legendary status.
If you’re a fan of hers, it’s worth it just to see Collette change before you eyes with such a fluidity that you’ll question if you’re watching several different movies at once.
As it stands, my favourite review I’ve seen online was from somebody in a Facebook comment section that had just seen the film and wrote:
“How am I supposed to be a person after watching that movie?”
And too be honest, that’s the feeling I was personally left with after watching the film. Granted, I do mean that in the best way possible.
Bending time and breaking minds is not an easy feat for filmmakers, which usually means that the movies that focus on this are often given a hot or cold reception depending on who you ask.
If you’re into having your brain put into a blender by two directors from very different schools of thought, this double-header is one that will make you question strange possibilities and alternative realities.
Go in with an open-mind and you’ll still probably leave with 100 questions and some definite conversation starters for anyone else who watched these films.